Burning Man
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Basic Information

Burning Man is an annual festival taking place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada which culminates in the burning of a wooden effigy. The first Burning Man took place on June 21 1986 (the summer solstice) in San Francisco, California. In 2007, 47,366 people participated.

The festival has a number of counter-cultural traditions, including that of prohibiting any buying or selling taking place and that of leaving no trace behind.


Burning Man homepage
Wikipedia entry

Game and Story Use

  • A ritualistic gathering with that many people is sure to generate huge amounts of magical energies.
  • The Man might animate, or be brought to life by arcane forces.
  • Terrorists would find Burning Man an ideal location for setting off a bomb and vanishing into the crowd. (Some would argue that this has already happened, actually.) Alternatively, a biological weapon released at Burning Man could have devastating effects, as people come from all over the world to attend the festival.
  • Strange cults gather at Burning Man. It is possible that one of them might have hidden lore needed by the pcs, or be involved in some sinister scheme.
  • PCs might be able to find nearly any strange item at Burning Man, but not for sale; the event is anti-commerce. Instead, they would have to trade or perform some deed in order to obtain it.
  • For Laundry RPG people, the scenario CASE ARSON SPARKLEPONY takes place at the Burning Man festival … somewhat outside the comfort zone of the British Civil Service, occult or otherwise.
  • More generally, this sort of counter-cultural event might be tricky for a lot of conventional organisations to infiltrate.
  • Such a festival could very easily be moved into any period of human history - and in some ways, earlier could even be better. A Neolithic gathering of tribes could very easily work on very similar principles - the Summer Solstice or one of the equinoxes would probably be most appropriate (you don't really want to be outdoors for the Winter Solstice if you can avoid it).
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